The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (33-14-1) versus the Montreal Canadiens (23-23-5)
The Last Devils Game: Going into the game, I believe everyone was a little down on the team. NJ had just come off the worst performance of the season against the Islanders but the Devils did the little things correctly against the Panthers. The offense got chances and the defense played much better. Marty stopped every shot and defeated Florida 2-0
The Last Canadiens Game: Montreal got into a 3-1 hole against the Blues but got huge goals from Benoit Pouliot and Mike Cammalleri to force overtime, securing them at least one point in the game. Ty Conklin made a HUGE save on Andre Markov and Andy McDonald took the puck to the other end and fired a laser into the net giving the Blues the 4-3 win.
The Last Canadiens / Devils Game: They last met in Montreal on Jan 9th. An up-tempo battle all game brought a 1-1 tie into overtime. Parise got the puck on his stick with no one between him and the Halak, made his move and froze Halak, and earned the Devils’ second win over Montreal this season.
Tonight’s Matchup: Just build on what was done Wednesday night against the Panthers. Keep getting the puck to the net. The Devils, like most teams, sometimes look to get the pretty play a little to often where as Wednesday night they concentrated on getting the puck on net, which opened many scoring oppurtunities. Going into the Panthers game, the Devils were finding themselves in early holes by giving up too many 1st period goals. Against the Panthers, it’s something they didn’t do. They need to continue working on that tonight and not let Montreal get out to an early lead. NJ needs to start finding the back of the net more consistantely as the Devils have scored only 11 goals in their last seven games, a stretch that has seen the club go 3-4-0. The Power Play has been awful recently and every game I hope that finds a way to gain momentum.
This is the first trip back to NJ for Brian Gionta, who was injured in the first Canadiens trip this season, so I would expect there to be a little something extra in his effort tonight. Scott Gomez isn’t having the best season in my opinion but you know he always steps up his game against the Devils. Marty gets the start yet again tonight but he loves to play his childhood favorite team. Halak gets the start for the Canadiens tonight. Ilkka Pikkarainen was placed on Waivers yesterday so I would imagine that opens the door for PLx3 or Andrew Peters to get the chance to play tonight. I thought both Davis and Palmieri did well enough the other night to deserve a spot in tonight’s lineup.
So my lines would be…
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – Niclas Bergfors
Jay Pandolfo – Dean McAmmond – Vladimir Zharkov
Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond – Patrick Davis – Nick Palmieri
Andy Greene – Bryce Salvador
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Johnny Oduya – Mark Fraser